Tempting God in America

The attack on God’s Holy Institution of Marriage in America has reached an unprecedented level. “In separate actions, judges stuck down constitutional marriage amendments in Virginia and Florida. Marriage is being challenged in every state that has not already redefined it.”

There are good arguments coming forward from the defenders of marriage that the consent of the governed is being overturned in our land. The will of multiple millions of voters in state after state is being overturned by one lawyer wearing a black robe; or the correct argument that Judges cannot make law, yet that, in essences, is what they are doing in all those States which have built marriage protection into their constitutions; or the correct argument that marriage as an institution is the bedrock of a society and for 6000 years, it has always been between a man and a woman, to change it is a reckless and dangerous undertaking that well may destroy the inter-relational glue which holds a society together; or, what I believe is the more powerful argument, that marriage does not belong to the jurisdiction of human civil government and therefore it has no power to redefine marriage. It is an unlawful power grab.

So while many are explaining what is happening on the legal and constitutional level, I think it is absolutely critical that we step back and see what is happening in America on the larger scale that is from the vantage point of the Bible – God’s Holy Word. Turn to the Biblical text of Exodus 17:1-7. What I believe we are seeing in America today is not in principle something new, though its manifestation may be new, rather it is the same thing which happen in the wilderness wanderings, the dangerous and terrible sin of tempting God. We need to understand this sin, not simply for the national issues before us, but because in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation, we are surrounded by this and may be drawn into this very same sin. We need to understand what it is and the terrible consequences of the sin of tempting God.

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“And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, why chide ye with me? Wherefore do ye tempt the Lord? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, what shall I do unto this people? They be almost ready to stone me.”

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We see here in this incident, during the wilderness wanderings, that the Children of Israel began grumbling as they had before when there was a lack of provision for their basic physical needs. As we noted in the incident at Marah, where there was water but undrinkable, the situation was desperate. When you are out of water, dehydration sets in and will lead to death if drinkable water is unavailable. The symptoms begin as increased thirst and dry mouth, but then progress to swollen tongue, weakness, dizziness, palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding), mental confusion, sluggishness, inability to sweat, decreased urine output, and fainting.

Now, as we have seen in previous desperate situations, God came through, He provided abundantly. Each new incident was a test, or more accurately we called it a pop quiz; God was testing His people with these trials. Look at what the passage states, God commanded them, He led them specifically to this location in the desert, it was all part of His plan for them.

We know that God used the means of the cloudy pillar by day and of fire by night to lead them, and when and where that pillar stopped, the people were to stop and pitch their tents. It was God who led them to this place of testing, and we note that it is not just the Children of Israel whom God tests in this fashion, it is you and me, as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps your pop quizzes this week did not look at all like those for the Children of Israel, yet they are one and the same; incidents in life whereby God tests our obedience and tests faithfulness to Him. If we pass the test, we move forward on our spiritual pilgrimage, on to new levels of Christlikeness.

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